Challenging Entropy

Have you ever wanted to drag all of the messages in your in-box into a folder just so that you could see what a clean in-box looks like? I have. Sometimes, I have even wished that I could drag my whole office into a folder - just so I could see what a clean office looks like.

As a technologist, I take great pride in my ability to help my clients design and implement systems to help them organize their information, communications, and actions digitally. Sometimes, however, my skill at organizing bits and bytes does not always consistently carry over from my digital life into my paper life. If you are like me, and you sometimes get out of control, there is hope for you.  The key is learning what clean feels like and knowing how to get back to it.

Hello, my name is Eric Mack, and I have a messy desk. (At least whenever I am completely immersed in a project, which is most of the time.)

Last week, in a moment of such intensity, I shared that I had misplaced my in-box. My post apparently struck a chord as several people have written, posted in forums, and even blogged about their messy desks.  Others wrote that my post inspired them. One individual even picked up on my attempt to blame my situation on entropy. I have seen the enemy... and his reflection is in my monitor.

Well, I am pleased to report that I did manage to locate my in-box -- It was right there all along, hiding under a pile of incompletion and ambiguity. All it took was some dedicated in-basket processing using my modifed GTD workflow diagram to get back to clean.

Image:Sometimes, I wish I could drag my office into a folder

A few days ago, David Allen made some of us uncomfortable by posting a photo of his office. Yes folks, David's desk really does look like that -- except when I'm sitting at it; but don't tell David.  (I often work in David's office, and I can honestly say that in all of the years that I have been going to his office I have yet to see observable signs of entropy at his desk; or even creeping out of his in-box.)

What do David and I have in common?  We both like cool gear and systems and we both know how to get back to clean.  What is different between us? Well, David's desk always looks like a finely manicured garden, mine is often much more organic.  

Thanks to David's GTD Methodology, however, I know what "clean" feels like and I know how to get back to that state quickly enough.  I am grateful to David and his example in this area. If you have not read David's book, I highly recommend it. It's been a great help to me.

My office? It cleans up nicely.

Image:Sometimes, I wish I could drag my office into a folder

Discussion/Comments (2):

Nice looking office ... I have never had a home office that was my complete room. I gotta put that on my someday maybe list.

Posted at 8/10/2004 7:36:12 PM by Steve Holden


Clean desk and empty in box

I work on an uncluttered, paperless desk and leve absolutely no documents in my electronic email overnight. Everything gets filed in several 'to do' folders, generate tasks, stored in a 'freezer' or deleted; unfailingly, every day. I hardly ever lose anything of value and NEVER admit it if I do:-) I prefer to blame others for distracting me. This way, I keep a clear conscience and absolute consistency. Yes, I am a little odd.

Posted at 8/11/2004 3:55:08 PM by Weblocutor



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